Sep 29, 2013

Reinvention #2: The Red Suitcase the Movie project...taking the past with you!

Image: Kathleen Chalfant
Justice for Lynn Steward
The Red Suitcase is a film that is being made by young filmmaker, Dana White, and her husband. She is the writer, producer and star. Her mother is the story. 

The idea for the film came after White and her mother had taken the road trip from her mother's home in the East to White's home in California. White had to convince her mother that she needed to leave the past behind and come to live with her.  

The movie will star Broadway stage actress, Kathleen Chalfant and White who has also worked on Broadway.

Sometime during the month of October, White and her husband will be starting a crowdsourcing campaign with Indiegogo to raise funds for completion of the film. I was given an opportunity to talk with White a few days ago. 

The Red Suitcase...the perfect symbol
Have you ever thought about the perfect symbolic container for your past? What size would it be? What would you fill it with? If you left the suitcase behind, could you move into the future easier? Those questions were the ones that came to mind when I first discovered The Red Suitcase project. 

The storyline is about a 66 year old woman named Ruth. She is alone, in financial trouble and still devastated over the abandonment of her husband six years earlier. Her daughter, Liz, comes to her mother begging her to come to California so they could share a life. The story begins...


Ruth agrees, but not without reluctance, as she tacitly carries with her a red suitcase full of her estranged husband’s clothes. In a beat-up station wagon filled to the brim, Ruth and Liz begin an odyssey across America.
 
Full of humorous adventures, colorful characters and dramatic revelations, the trip continually tests Ruth’s wavering resolve to start a new life.  
Through this journey, and the complex and unbreakable bond with her daughter, Ruth finds the strength to let go of the past and face the future, proving it is never too late.
When I received an email...
I was surprised by the email from White telling me that she and her husband had decided to crowdsource the film and would be going full tilt before long.I could only imagine how exciting it would be to actually see the story come alive. In fact, I had been thinking about it just a few days earlier. It was almost magic to hear from her.

White told me in the email that we could visit over the phone, an offer I accepted immediately. I had been following the progress of her project for a long time. Not only was I curious; I was also flattered that she would take the time to talk with me.

We chatted about her life and the fact that she was returning to college with a grant so she could get her MFA in Creative Writing at UC Riverside. We also touched on her life in a community of creative people in Pasadena, CA. But the burning question that was in my mind was What did her mother think about a film based on her life? Wasn't that something that her mother would somehow find a little frightening?

What did her mother think?
White told me that she had asked for her mother's permission to make the movie. 

"That is fine Dana" her mother said, "but I don't think we are very interesting." 


She was reassured when White told her that it would be loosely based on her life. 

"Trust me" White answered, "I will make us very interesting."

I have seen the trailer for this film and was even allowed 
to see a private YouTube clip of a reading of the script for a group of possible supporters. This is not going to be boring...trust me. Dana White has written a beautiful, funny and compelling story.

So why does this interest me so much? 
The fact is, I have known women that have gone through this very thing. Some have moved on, some have followed a child to make a life with them and some have simply fallen through the cracks. Many times success or failure was not related to making the right decisions. Life has a way of doing that to women left alone late in life.

Movies about our aging population are becoming more and more mainstream these days so I think this one has a very good chance of succeeding. I like that and I find it fascinating. As I understand it, donors will be giving a symbolic gift in appreciation for their support. I want to be a part of this...and I thought the idea for the token gift was a stroke of genius. 

Stay tuned. I will keep you posted. Be sure to visit the website link for the movie I gave you at the top of the article. When the Indiegogo project comes to life, you will be the first to hear about it...here.

Oh, and if you aren't a follower, add your name to the list at the right. Tweet, Facebook or Google me. It all helps!

Be well.

Barbara


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Sep 27, 2013

Grandparenting: Are you pressuring your children to have babies?

My iphone screen!
I was reading Gypsy Nesters again today. I love reading their blog because it is a blast from the past for me. They are living the life in a place that I once occupied. They feel what I felt back in the days before grandchildren or even son/daughter-in-laws.

Veronica James and her husband David sold their home and travel full time these days. They are poster children for the boomer's dream life. Travel, adult children, free to live the adventure. But, as with all things, they are finding that as time passes, their peers are beginning to move into the grandparent mode. Their children are even wondering why their parents aren't demanding the next generation be born and soon. 

I remember back in the days when my children were leaving home how excited I was for them. The adventure they were embarking on was so full of promise and success. We were close to our children in a lot of ways so we were invited to share in their life just enough. It was a happy time in our life. I was in no hurry to have son/daughter-in-laws or grandchildren. We never talked about it.

Jame's words resonated with me as an echo of my past feeling:
To be honest, one of the reasons for my lack of longing is unabashed selfishness. I like having my kids all to myself when we visit. No husbands, wives or diaper changes to disrupt my time with them. I feel I'm just getting to know them as adults, and I am loving the process. I don't want to share.
But as time went by I found a biological clock ticking...grandmother's have those too you know. I never mentioned it...well maybe a little bit...but not a lot. I was torn between that longing that women get for grand babies and the selfish desire to have my children all to myself. We traveled together and spent school breaks on vacation with them. As they grew older we visited them and enjoyed days of shopping or just hanging out. Still the clock was ticking somewhere in the back of my mind.

The funny thing was, I would wake up at night naming babies. Wesley and Harrison for the boys. Annali and Kate for the girls. I did voice those preferences when the girls were pregnant but none of them actually took my suggestions. Naming unknown babies in my sleep told me that something was going on in my mind. I began to realize I think that time was not on my side and wanting to see at least part of my grandchildren grow up was a deep seeded desire.

I am now the grandmother of 12 grandchildren. The youngest are probably going to grow up without me but it is fine. However, I am very grateful for the grown grandchildren. They have given me a taste for what our next generation will be like. 

As for having our children all to ourselves, I will have to admit that I long for a quiet dinner or even a glass of wine without interruptions. The idea that we might all gather together as adults just for a while is hard to imagine or even make happen. We think about our family in a different way now. We are not in charge of the grandchildren and remind ourselves of that fact as we fall off to sleep each night. Life is different...not bad...just different. 

What would I say to those of you that are not there yet but seeing other parents pressuring their children to have babies? Don't judge...wait. It appears that for some of us the notion that having grandchildren cannot be denied.


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Sep 24, 2013

Secrets: Did Grandma Spill the Bean?

This Grandma is not spilling the beans!
I was having dinner with my daughter and her friends the other evening and the issue of Grandma Spilling the Beans came up in the conversation. What do I mean by that? Well it seems that some grandparents find it necessary to tell their grandchildren about their parents misdeeds as teens or even as young children. Why would they do that? the young parents asked. We don't want our children think that just because we were stupid they can be too. I could see why they were upset.

One of the grandchildren had been caught driving with younger people in the car before it was legal. When asked why they thought it was okay to do that, the response was that "all the kids sorta ignored that rule". The grandmother that was having the conversation snickered and proceeded to tell all their dad's misdeeds, what trouble he was in and how simply driving with a young person in the car seemed pretty minor in comparison.

Now, I am sure that you would never do that but think about it...aren't you just a little tempted to tell the grandchildren about their mom and dad and how they behaved when they were 5 or 10 or 16? Here is where I warn you to be very careful. Only hold your children up as good role models for their children.

My mother told my children that my husband and I were married when I was 19. While I was not ashamed of it, I didn't want my children to think that getting married at a very young age was a good idea. My husband and I were lucky but a lot of people aren't. I wanted them to get an education and become secure before they took that leap. I would have preferred to share that part of my life when they were adults.

Telling grandchildren about a DUI their father had when he was 17 is not information they need...it opens the window a crack for the idea that it may be okay to drink and drive. The same applies to other pranks or mishaps. That is not information that is yours to share. In fact I would even warn you not to share information on the lack of interest in school. Telling these children that the mom or dad failed in Math is not a good idea.

So, I am just saying. Don't spill the beans all over everyone. It just makes a mess!

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Sep 23, 2013

Why reinvent yourself...you're perfect just like you are?



I always thought that Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Suess, knew more about reinvention that anyone around. Our children learned about reading and adventure and laughing from him. He taught them that they were perfect just the way they were.

For those of us that were not raised with Dr. Suess, the lessons were just as meaningful. Hidden between the words and in the poetry were lesson on courage and enduring adversity and finding adventure. But best of all there were lessons on challenging ourselves to be the very best we could be.

I have always thought that one of his very early books, Happy Birthday to You, taught the most important lesson of all. Here is the much quoted phrase that has managed to survive for over 50 years:
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! ( Dr. Suess1959)

In his book Oh, the Places You'll Go, the good Dr. Suess led the reader down the garden path of possibilities and adventure. He told us “It's opener, out there, in the wide, open air.” It was almost a dare...step out that door and see what there is. His belief was that the adventure of learning was the magic key to all the things that are possible. 

But Dr, Suess warned that things might not go right, not all of the time. The mountains were high and the valleys were deep. He said, “I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.” He asked, "Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?” His call to bravery resonates with the old and the young. 

But in the end he always managed to find just the right note...the one that had the reader believing that, no matter what you do, whether you succeed or you fail, the adventure was worth it. 
"...you're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way"
When he reminded us that we are who we are, I think he was telling us that reinvention is not about changing ourselves. It is about deciding to be the very best person we can be. Because in the end you all know "there is no one alive who is you-er than you!" I think he would say you are perfect just like you are. But if you think you can be "perfecter" then go climb that mountain that is waiting...get on your way!

Have a happy day.

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Note: Thank you to Brainy Quotes for making my writing easy and to Yahoo Answers for the complete words to Oh the Places You'll Go.
Posted for Generation Fabulous "Reinvention" Bloghop




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Sep 19, 2013

Blog Header Saga: It is All about ME!

I am ready to move on. The blog header is not the one my readers liked but I could not put the misty Oregon coast up this time. I had become used to the Orange Shoes and the grey misty ocean air was kind of depressing...so I made MYSELF happy. As you all know, it is all about ME.

The picture that I created for the header is very abstract...the bright colors are the ones we see in Arizona. They light the winter months when the northwest is so dark. We are leaving soon. It is a good thing.

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I am storing this one away to use on another day...because that is what I want to do! 

The Old Pueblo (Tucson Az) Colors

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Sep 16, 2013

4 Beautiful Blog Headers!

I have spent the morning editing and creating 4 new headers for my blog. Maybe you have a favorite.  Comment and let me know what you think. I am having a very hard time deciding.

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The Old Pueblo
Desert Crossing
At the Beach
Valley in the Fall
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Sep 15, 2013

New blog header?...here are some possibilities!

When the seasons change so does the look of my blog.  Here are some possible images that could have possibilities. Let me know what you think.

Fall is slowly approaching here in Oregon. We had lunch at Red Tail Golf Course located in Progress in the Portland Metro area. The haze the fills the sky is one of the signs we see that fall is getting closer.

We visited Cannon Beach earlier in the summer and the air always hangs heavy over the shore there. The picture here tells a story of life going on and on. My husband is dressed in red on the left side of the picture. A bride in her wedding dress is repeating her vows as we watch. My friend Betty Lowry is checking to see if her shot was as good as she hoped. All around us people played and walked and reveled in the beauty of it all. I love this picture.
We took the back road home after an evening with friends. As the sun set haze settled in on fields just recently harvested. I took this picture with my iPhone through the windshield of our car.
I loved the way the road disappeared into the night in this picture. I need your input. What do you think? The orange shoes need to be put away for the winter.

Note: I use a Sony Nex 5N. My blog is over a thousand pixels wide. These photos will need some major editing I think.

I use a white background because it allows me to highlight the photos and ads. I cannot see a dark background anyway so I almost am locked into light colors. The font is fairly large for that same reason. Do you think the colors are uplifting or does it just put you off? I am interested in knowing.

But I bought a new Photoshop Elements 11 yesterday so let the fun begin!

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Sep 14, 2013

WSJ: Are you a Parent to a Helicopter Parent that Goes to Work with Their Child?

My Desk...no advice from me! I know where I belong.
The big topic of conversation over at Generation Fabulous Midlife Bloggers is an article that is being featured online by the Wall Street Journal. Should You Bring Mom and Dad to the Office? is all about how large companies are encouraging involvement by the parents of their college interns. They arrange social occasions and are even sending notes to Helicopter Parents about their child's progress as an intern. This is a concept that most of us that are little older have never even considered.

Companies like Northwest Mutual are encouraging parents to take part in open houses to see what their college aged interns are doing. The companies that are pushing this are seeing a difference in the way Millennials are growing up and have seen an improvement in the performance of their interns since implementing the ideas.

It seems that children born after 1980 are different that say those born in 1971. How so you ask? Well according to the Wall Street Journal's sources, children born between 1981 and 2000 are closer to their parents. In the eyes of the employer it follows that the parents can be an important ally when it comes to hiring and keeping the most talents prospects.

The Generation Fabulous ladies are not buying it...not at all. They are still working themselves and really need for their children to grow and hopefully, not boomerang on them. But go to work with them to negotiate salaries or open houses to view their child's progress? Nope...they not only don't think it is a good idea, they flat out don't want to do that. I not only wouldn't want to I would not even know what to do if I did.

But...what if you as a parent are very experience, perhaps even just a little wise and your child asked you to be a second set of eyes and ears at a very important time in their life, would you make it work? It could be. Common sense tells us that the more you know the better you become. And adult children can still want to hear from their parents. Another fact of life is that employers can and will take advantage of inexperienced employees/our adult children.

So what do you think? If you are a grandparent, would you have some very good advice for  your adult children with Millennials of their own?

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I invite you to read post Galen Pearl wrote for 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place called Clean Towels. It is very relevant to this post.

Sep 9, 2013

Keeping the Romance Alive? I have some date night ideas for you!

An article I wrote this last week has been published on Generation Fabulous. Date Night Keeps the Romance Alive is a tongue in cheek discription of what date night looks like as we grow older.  I think you will like it a lot.
"My husband and I have been married for 53 (almost) years. I know things have changed a lot since we were teens but don’t tell me the romance is not still alive! My husband and I are going on a date." Generation Fabulous
romance, date night, empty nest, seniors, long married couples
I just love it when reality makes me laugh...a lot. Just a little lie here and a little bent truth there...voila I have a story.  I hope you enjoy it.

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Story post on Generation Fabulous 

Sep 7, 2013

Toys for Grandchildren

On Opening Pandora's Box
My grandchildren have always loved to come to our house. They wanted to come before my daughter brought her son's collection of toy cars and her daughter's Polly Pockets. They loved my house before the Imaginext Dino appeared. Before I made four bags of sugar cookie dough that can be rolled out at a moments notice, they counted the sleeps until they could spend the day with with us.

We have two pairs of small digging gloves, one trowel, one old spoon, a patch of dirt and a plastic bucket that serves as a truck/bucket/water container. The toys in the toy basket came from my classroom I taught in over 15 years ago. Life was good and they were satisfied. Then...

Dump Truck And Wheel Loader
Hot Wheels Race Rally Water Park Playset
...we decided that Grandpa and I should have a day alone with each child. That was when we opened Pandora's Box.

A single child, the oldest sibling, came with us first. We went to the book store and bought a Where's Waldo? book, then to a big box store to shop for a special Hot Wheels toy.

We went out to lunch.

We played together when we got home. DUPLOs were dumped on a big table. My grandson built a wonderful pretend play ground. I video taped him telling about it. Just the perfect books were read and there was NO nap time at all. Best of all, unlike all the other visits, he was allowed to take the toy we bought home with him!

Yesterday we repeated the special day for the younger brother.

Things will never, never be the same. Now they know about Grandma's car and have discovered that I have a car seat for each boy. All that time spent helping us dust, vacuum and garden could be over shadowed by the things we did on that special day. You know, once you have opened Pandora's Box you can never put the things that escape back inside...it is a fact.

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Note: Our Pandora's Box only contained toys and fun. I'm just not sure how much fun Grandpa and Grandma can handle. We will see!

Sep 2, 2013

The grass is greener over here...let's Listen to them Grow



There is a song that Pink Martini sings called Splendor in the Grass. The lyrics touched me because it seemed to reflect my life from beginning to end. The words go like this:


I can see you're thinking baby
I've been thinking too
about the way we used to be
and how to start anew.

Maybe I'm a hopeless dreamer
maybe I've got it wrong
but I'm going where the grass is green
if you'd like to come along.

Back when I was starting out
I always wanted more
but every time I got it
I still felt just like before.

Fortune is a fickle friend
I'm tired of chasing fate
and when I look into your eyes
I know you feel the same.

All these years of living large
are starting to do us in
I won't say it wasn't fun
but now it has to end.

Life is moving oh so fast
I think we should take it slow
rest our heads upon the grass
and listen to it grow.
Going where the hills are green
and the cars are few and far
days are full of splendor
and at night you can see the stars.

I took this video over the summer. My sixteen year old granddaughter joined me on several days. Six children is a lot to handle so she helped out. I loved those days particularly.

Elena played Duplo set with the boys.

We planted beans and they were up in less then ten days.
The walk in the park is part of the video you see above.


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Special thank you to Takes, the video app. for iPhone. It allowed me to do the day with grandchildren sequence in the middle of the video. It is one of my favorite parts.